Kearney girls fall in Missouri Class 2 soccer state final

06/07/2014 5:37 PM

06/07/2014 5:37 PM

The conclusive play of a dogged, tightly contested Missouri Class 2 girls soccer state championship Saturday started with an inbounds pass that appeared harmless off the release. But by the time the ball reached Visitation Academy senior Sarah Price — after hopping through the Kearney Bulldogs’ defense — she only needed to turn and fire toward an open net.

The overtime sequence played out in slow motion, Kearney senior Allie Hess would later say. But while it was happening there was little she could do to stop it.

And Price didn’t miss. She rifled her shot into the corner of the net, lifting Visitation Academy to a 2-1 victory against Kearney in double overtime at Blue Springs South.

For the second straight season, Kearney’s bid for the school’s first state championship came to a close on the season’s final weekend.

“It (stinks). We fell short twice,” Hess said. “But we played great today. It was just a fight the whole time. Two very good teams. They just wanted it more.”

That was in doubt until Price’s game-winner, her 19th goal of the season.

Kearney junior Lexie Howard tied the game with only 4 minutes remaining in regulation, forcing the sudden-death overtime. Howard slid to clean up a rebound after midfielder Jessi Hartzler clanked a shot off the crossbar from 30 yards away.

“I’ve always been taught to follow the ball, so I followed it and got a touch on it,” Howard said. “I’m glad I did. It’s the championship game. You’ve got to do whatever you can to help your team.”

It was enough to extend the game and send Kearney to overtime for the second straight day. The Bulldogs, 23-4-2, defeated Helias Catholic on Friday on a game-winning score from Hess in overtime.

The Bulldogs couldn’t find the same magic Saturday. But they controlled the bulk of the possession in the two overtime periods.

Until, of course, Price finished off a throw-in from Hannah Brobst in the 105th minute, clinching Visitation Academy its fifth state championship and first since 2011. Brobst also assisted on Abigail Grimes’ goal in the 68th minute.

“When I saw the ball come across at the end, I thought, ‘We’re too tired. We’re just too tired,’ ” Kearney coach Jackie Haller said. “Playing overtime yesterday and two overtimes today, it was just too much. I think that was probably the difference.”

Class 1: Festus St. Pius X 4, Lutheran 0

Lutheran settled for fourth place in its first trip to the Class 1 state tournament. Kirsten Nulsen scored twice for St. Pius X, which led 2-0 at halftime.

Lutheran managed only one shot on goal. The Knights finished 20-3-1 this season, which included a 21-match unbeaten streak.

“I’m proud of the team,” Lutheran coach Oliseh Chuks said. “It wasn’tt easy to get here. It’s been a great season.”

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